( I refuse to link to the article out of sheer principle).
From the comments it is apparent that many readers of the blog deleted their accounts in response. Nor was this the only result of the post, the Last.Fm has definitely taken a hit on its reputation on that timeframe - we don’t know what the numbers of unsubscribers were, but given that the post was made late on Friday, without a real response available from the UK arm of Last.fm, the damage was collating over the weekend.
However, the team at Last.fm UK hit back with “Techcrunch are full of shit” - brave and bold move - where they called out Techcrunch and asked their readers to spread the word. The article has had over 4300 diggs and still climbing, twitter is buzzing with the story, and support messages are coming in fast and furious.
But this was not the only extent of the damage control that the team carried out, the comments on the post highlight another measure:
“As soon as we saw the TC article we suspended the system that cleans out user accounts marked for deletion, expecting that people would do exactly as you did. If you contact our support team (support [at] last.fm) we should be able to restore your account and scrobbles.”
I think that there are two valuable lessons to be learnt here:
A blog as influential as techcrunch should really verify their sources and stories - what you say on the internet can sometimes have immediate and enormous impact.
This is pretty much true of the ever increasing News blogs and newspaper sites, as well as top bloggers. A code of conduct that is applied to offline media should realistically extend to online media - remember, just because it’s a blog, does not mean you aren’t open to being sued, libel is libel, and if proven, damages need to be paid.
My advise to bloggers is don’t run for the cheap win, in the long run, very few can sustain that strategy. Oh, and take out bloggers insurance if you do.
2. Reputation Management is Real Time.
Last.Fm’s response and method of response turned a PR incident for them into a PR incident for their attacker. They used the right medium - social media and their blog to get their message across, and quickly.
Even though it was the weekend in the UK, as soon as Last.Fm staff heard the rumour, they instantly began a campaign of rebuttal, commenting on Techcrunch’s original article and on twitter, while at the same time working on their master stroke, which they dropped first thing Monday. This is a great Reputation Management strategy, and I am not the only one who thinks so: A Great Example of Hosting the Conversation When Under Attack
And in conclusion, here is an example of how NOT to get involved in Reputation Management: What happened when a blogger decided to take on Ryanair
Rishi Lakhani is a Search Marketing Strategist. Feel free to follow him on twitter.